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7 Great Ways to Be Social During the Holidays

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7 Great Ways to Be Social During the Holidays
    Photo credit: confidence, comely. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    The holidays are an excellent opportunity to socialize, make friends, have fun with others and be grateful for the people in your life.

    But if you’re somewhat on the shy side and you have trouble opening up during social interactions, holidays can be a pain in the neck, because you know others socialize and enjoy themselves while you’re missing out on all the fun.

    Well, this year is going to be different.

    As a social confidence coach, helping others overcome their shyness and be more outgoing is the core of my job description. I want to share with you 7 great ways to be more social during the upcoming holiday season.

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    1. Fill up Your Social Agenda

    Forget about spending Christmas Eve watching a movie alone or the holiday vacation reading a 1200-page book. The first key step to enjoying meaningful interactions during the holidays is to get involved in social activities instead of avoiding them. Any social activity you can find, try to attend. Family dinner, corporate party, friends gathering, drinking night, holiday trip — anything goes.

    Even if it may not sound appealing at first — or just the thought of attending it makes you feel nervous — you will typically discover it’s a lot more fun once you actually go to it.

    2. Organize Social Events

    There is no need to wait for others to organize some social activity and invite you, too. Take the initiative, arrange your own social events, and invite others to attend.

    Throw a pre-Christmas party or a post-New Year’s Eve party to finish all the leftovers. Organize a poker night or a simple get together with old friends. There are plenty of things you can do. And when you’re the host or the initiator of a certain social activity, since you’re on your ‘turf’, it’s easier to feel confident and be more social.

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    3. Bear Gifts

    All people love to receive gifts; it’s not just children that do at this time of year. Getting gifts makes them feel appreciated. This is why gifts are a good way to elicit people’s goodwill, and the holidays are the perfect occasion to bear gifts.

    So when you visit or meet someone, take a little time to buy them a nice little holiday present. It doesn’t have to be something expensive — just something interesting. Remember: it’s the gesture that matters the most.

    4. Take More Risks

    People who are shy or reserved are archetypal “risk avoiders” in social settings. They don’t want to say anything improper, be rude or embarrass themselves. Consequently, they avoid speaking their mind and being authentic in social interactions.

    If this is your case, this is a terrific moment to start taking more risks when interacting with others. Speak your mind, open up and be as spontaneous as you can. If others like you, fine. If they don’t, don’t worry — nobody has ever died because of it.

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    5. Seek the Friendly Persons

    If you have a hard time starting conversations with people at parties or other social events, the best advice I can offer you is to look for the people who seem the friendliest in the room and start by talking with them.

    The fact they are gregarious and positive heartens you to be the same. It boosts your self-assurance and, eventually, you will also feel confident enough to talk with other persons as well.

    6. Use the Holidays to Come Up with Conversation Topics

    During the holidays, one of the best topics to talk about is the holidays. People are generally in the moment, enjoying the festivities, and they like to share them with others.

    During conversation, ask people how they’ve spent the holidays so far, what their plans for the next few days are, what they’re doing for New Year’s Eve, what presents they got for Christmas and so on. There is an abundance of things to talk about regarding the holidays — so go for it.

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    7. Listen, but Also Talk

    A good conversation is a two-way street. It’s important to be a good listener and encourage the other person to talk and open up, but you also want to talk and open up yourself.

    For many people, this can be an issue. They tend to feel uncomfortable with disclosing themselves. There is only one method to overcome this, and that is to deliberately disclose yourself more, despite the aversion you have. As you get used to it, it gets a lot easier.

    In Closing

    As you open up and become more social, and start letting go of the need to have the approval of others, you’ll find yourself having a lot of fun during social interactions and fully enjoying the holidays.

    On that note, I wish you the best — and most social — holidays you’ve ever had.

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    More by this author

    Eduard Ezeanu

    Eduard is a confidence and communication coach with 7+ years of experience.

    7 Things to Remember When Going Through Tough Times in Life 5 Powerful Ways for Building Fulfilling Relationships The First 6 Steps You Can Take To Become Productive Instantly 7 Great Ways to Be Social During the Holidays 4 Proactive Strategies to Build a Social Life

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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